South American Cocaine Trafficking Drug Ring Busted in Italy

By Dialogo
October 22, 2012

About 52 people were arrested in eight Italian cities on October 18, during an intensive counter drug operation carried out by the Italian police in order to dismantle the Calabrian mafia’s powerful cocaine trafficking ring, funded by the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, and linked to drug cartels of Colombia and Ecuador.

The operation, called Dionisio, led to the discovery of a new system used by several families of the Calabrian mafia, the ‘Ndrangheta, associated with Colombian and Ecuadorean drug traffickers. The goal was to smuggle South American cocaine into Europe, particularly into Italy’s financial capital, Milano.

“A member of the Calabrian mafia was offered as business guarantor, and he was traveling to South America, while a messenger sent by the drug traffickers was coming to Italy. The money for the business was coming mainly from well-known Calabrian families: Morabito, Strangio, Pelle, Fazzari,” explained Italian Military Police sources.

According to Mario Parente, Commander of the Corps of Carabineers specialized in organized crime and terrorism, the drug reached Europe through the ports of Antwerp (Belgium), and Hamburg (Germany), and from there it was sent to Italy in order to be delivered to ‘Ndrangheta rings. In turn, the criminal organizations acquired it with the financial support of Cosa Nostra members, the Sicilian mafia, and the Sacra Corona Unida, a feared criminal organization from Apulia.

“The common interests helped to overcome any rivalries,” stated Parente, after explaining that the role of ‘Ndrangheta was crucial due to “very strong” relations with other South American drug traffickers.

Investigations started in 2009, after the killing of a prominent criminal in Milano. This event paved the way to unravel international trafficking and cocaine trade operations in Italy, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria.

According to newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, Ecuadorean national Feliberto Fabián Cuenca Rojas was in charge of keeping connections with Latin American drug traffickers.

Some of the arrestees include 53-year-old Bruno Pizzata, who was considered of key importance inside the criminal organization; 66-year-old Francesco Strangio; and 29-year-old Sandro Bruzzaniti, all connected with ‘Ndrangheta.